Monday, February 15, 2010

Wacky moments in comics (Black Punisher)

This post marks the beginning of a series cataloging the worst and weirdest stories in comics. What better character to use than the young Charelton Heston known as the Punisher. Few writers have managed to illicit the emotional response, a character of this background and moral question warrant.


Perhaps the most odd moment in the characters history came in an early 90's story known as "The Final Days". Essentially, what happens is this: After taking on the Kingpin, the Punisher is caught by the police and sent to prison for… well, for being the Punisher, really. Turns out that killing pretty much everybody he meets over the course of fifty issues is actually illegal. Go figure. One rigged trial later, and Frank’s locked up in Rikers, where he is promptly set upon by a gang of cons led by perennial antagonist Jigsaw, who finally gets his revenge by carving up Frank’s good looks like a Christmas goose.


thanks to some help from a convicted cannibal named Derek Pike, Frank’s able to spring himself from the hoosegow, and once a nine-fingered Microchip gets back from Thailand (long story), he’s able to secure the services of Melinda Brewer, brilliant plastic surgeon turned heroin-addicted prostitute (Yes ladies these were Marvels ideas for female characters). 


I’ll pause here for a second while we all try to figure out that little character arc.

So after dealing with a few of the Kingpin’s henchmen, Frank and “Dr.” Melinda head to a chemical plant upstate where she explains her tragic origin and reveals that her skills actually do go beyond standing on the street corner in a purple mini-dress and cooking up that sweet, sweet horse without setting her entire tenement on fire.

See what they did there? Melanin, for those of you without access to Wikipedia, is the biopolymer primarily responsible for human skin color, which–in the Marvel Universe–also has magical face-mending properties. Thus, once the foreshadowing’s been laid down and Melinda’s forced to tearfully blow away a couple of bounty-happy thugs in the closest thing to an emotional moment you’re going to find in an issue of The Punisher from 1991, she sets down to operating.

Shockingly, despite the fact that she is both going through heroin withdrawl and operating in a filthy abandoned factory (both of which, I’m sure, Dr. OZ would advise against), the procedure goes off without a hitch and Frank gets put back together with one slight change:He is now the Sgt. from Tropic Thunder

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